7 Ways to Guarantee You Will Lose Your Fantasy Basketball League

We’ve talked a lot about what you should do in your fantasy basketball league, but what are some things you should avoid doing?

  1. Buy high, sell low
    You should never buy high or sell low on players. Unless there is an injury problem, players drafted within the first few rounds will generally come around to produce about their career averages (with only a few exceptions).
  2. Draft rookies too high
    Do not draft rookies too high; they generally underachieve and the upside gain is never worth the struggles that they face the first year (for an example, look at the top 10 picks in this past year’s draft).
  3. Draft too many players from one team
    Try not to draft too many players from one team (especially if this is just your favorite team). There are never enough touches to warrant having 4-5 players on an actual NBA team on your fantasy team (the Phoenix Suns are attempting to disprove this). Also, there will be large fluctuations for these players. When the team is playing well, generally a few of these players will be doing well. However, when the team is losing, generally all of these players will be doing poorly. In Roto leagues, you may be able to sustain this. In H2H leagues, you probably will not. Also, if it is your favorite team, you will not want to drop players and will hold them for too long.
  4. Ignore certain teams, players
    Never ignore certain players on teams just because they are losing. All teams will have at least 1 player who is very fantasy worthy. See Al Jefferson, Minnesota Timberwolves.
  5. Try to win in the short run
    As hard as it is for a fantasy manager, he or she should not overemphasize the short run. The beauty of fantasy basketball is that league standings are volatile and players are streaky. The key thing to remember is that if you’re doing everything else right (drafting well, picking up and dropping players that are either vastly improving or underperforming, following individual player news, etc.), you should be in pretty good standing in your league. If for whatever reason you’re team is middle-of-the-pack (5—7th place in a 12 team league), you should not try to compensate for this by making a hasty transaction.
  6. Try to win every category in H2H leagues, Neglect certain categories in Rotisserie leagues
    Unless you have an amazing fantasy team, chances are you will be weak in a few of your league’s categories. This is okay in H2H leagues. Generally, a manager should not try to overstretch his or her team in a H2H league by trying to do well across all categories. The beauty of H2H leagues is that once you get into the playoffs, a win is a win, whether it is 9-0-0, 5-4-0 or even 2-1-6. Focus on your strengths, accentuate those and forgot about categories you may never win. I like to focus on 6 categories at minimum. In a Rotisserie league, however, consistency is the name of the game. A 1 (out of 12) in the turnovers category will hurt your team and low standing in %’s will hurt your team, as well. In a Rotisserie league, ensure from the start that you are not neglecting certain categories—it may be too difficult to recover in those categories later on in the season.
  7. Let personal feelings of a player influence a decision
    Let’s be honest, each of us loves certain players and despises others (the same can be said about teams, as described in point #3). The personal emotions that we attach to a particular player or team should never influence our decision on whether to add, drop or continue on with a certain player. Drop your favorite player if he is sucking.

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Mike and Farid

RookieWatch 07-08 (Picks #6-10)

For the next installment of RookieWatch 07-08, we will take an in-depth fantasy look at picks #6-10. For fantasy analysis of picks #1-5, click here.

  1. Yi Jianlian, Milwaukee Bucks – A relatively unknown Chinese (hell ya!) seven-footer, scouts did not know if he would be the next Yao Ming or another version of Wang Zhi Zhi. And even though the Bucks knew that Yi would be unhappy in Milwaukee (no Asian population and really, really cold), they took him with the 6th pick anyways. It seems like a good decision. And it has been a welcome delight to fantasy owners who were patient and scooped him up off waivers. Scoring nearly double digits a game and a helpful resource in terms of blocks, FT %, and rebounds, Yi has become a valuable contributor as another option behind Michael Redd. It also helps that part of his contract promised him a good amount of playing time (he’s averaging over 27 minutes/game).

    Recommendation: If you need a source of blocks, FT%, or rebounds, consider trading a player with a reduced role such as Tayshaun Prince or David Lee.

  2. Corey Brewer, Minnesota Timberwolves – A two-time national champion with the Florida Gators, Brewer was touted as a tenacious defender with slasher ability in the Scottie Pippen mold. However, he has struggled for consistency on a young and terrible Timberwolves team. His scoring and rebounds have fluctuated from below average to terrible and that is the part of his game that has any positive value at all. A long defender, he has been unable to contribute in steals and blocks, and although he may still develop into a solid NBA player in the next few years, he has no place on anyone’s fantasy roster this year.

    Recommendation: Ignore and hope he makes strides in the offseason to become a sleeper pick in next year’s draft.

  3. Brandan Wright, Golden State Warriors – Another long, lean athlete, but without the credentials of Corey Brewer, Wright has struggled to find playing time and any type of stability in his first year. Wright is a raw athlete that probably left North Carolina much too soon, and he has struggled with his shooting stroke and has not picked up any time in the normal Warriors rotation. Although Golden State is generally a team that can increase the fantasy stats of players through its quick playing style, Wright has no value unless you get points for time spent sitting next to a very old coach.

    Recommendation: Do not even think about picking him up. Not even next year. Should have stayed in school but instead will follow the path of guys like Kwame Brown.

  4. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls – Although seen as the consummate team player while at Florida, Noah has been a nuisance in the Chicago locker room in his first season (but he is only one of the reasons that my Bulls have horribly underachieved). He was even suspended for a game by his teammates, which is completely unheard of. However, he does bring energy and, even though his shooting touch is awful at best, has garnered more playing time now that the Bulls are all but ready to pack it in for the season (even though they are unbelievably only a game out of a playoff spot in the putrid Eastern Conference). Check out his game against Indiana last week (14 points, 15 rebounds, 6-9 from the field, 2-2 from the line, 1 assist, 3 steals). Still, he probably should not garner any interest in your league. Unless we’re talking about a crazy dancing league.

    Recommendation: If the Bulls really start to tank, think about taking a flyer on him if the Baby Bulls (I think now its 4th generation Baby Bulls) get more playing time.

  5. Spencer Hawes, Sacramento Kings – Even playing on an injury-depleted team such as Sacramento, Hawes has not seen much playing time this year for the simple fact that the guy in front him, Brad Miller, has amazingly stayed healthy. Hawes showed some ability as a freshman at Washington, but he probably also came out too soon. I mean come on, even Stanford’s Robin Lopez has his number. He will most likely never develop into more than a Chris Mihm (and I wanted the Bulls to draft him, too) or Travis Knight (I always knew he sucked) clone, and thus should receive no attention in fantasy leagues due to sparse minutes and terrible peripherals.

    Recommendation: Ignore, even if he does get more playing time. Just seems like he is not NBA-ready.

So as you can see, all of these picks, with the exception of Yi, have been busts for their teams so far. And with the exception of Corey Brewer, I think this trend will continue. I suppose the depth of this 2007 draft class was highly exaggerated. Coming up next, picks #11-15.

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Mike
Senior Writer

RT21 (Ronny Turiaf) is THE MAN

If you’re looking for a strong up-and-coming PF, look no further–Ronny Turiaf is your man!

It goes without question that Ronny Turiaf is a great asset to the Los Angeles Lakers, but RT21 (as I have nicknamed him) has never been quite the fantasy producer. Admired for his energy, hardwork and relentlessness on the interior, Turiaf brings a much needed spark to the Lakers’ second unit now with Andrew Bynum sidelined with a knee injury. Another player that has sparked the Lakers second unit is Jordan Farmer, which I named the best free agent 3-point specialist pickup earlier today.

As I write this post, the Lakers lead the San Antonio Spurs 54-45 at halftime and Turiaf has already accumulated 11 points (4/5 shooting), 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks and an assist in only 12 minutes of play. In my opinion, Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson will undoubtedly realize that Kwame Brown (booed off the court by his Lakers fans when he had 8 points and 7 turnovers) and Luke Walton (garbage!) are subpar performers and grant Turiaf more minutes. He is only averaging 17 minutes on the year, but I expect this to rise to around 25 minutes a contest (as it has the last couple of games). Also, we shouldn’t forget that Trevor Ariza is also out with an injury.

I mean honestly, who else do the Lakers have on the interior that can produce?
DJ Mbenga, who was signed to a 10-day contract recently? Pssh, the man can’t even say “taco“. The fact of the matter is that Ronny Turiaf is the only productive low-post player (if you can call him that) for the Lakers and I believe his fantasy stats (particulary his percentages, rebounds and blocks) will increase substantially in the next 7-8 weeks that Bynum is out.

IF YOU NEED HELP IN %’s, RB’s and BLK’s, CONSIDER PICKING UP RT21.

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To hoops,
Farid

Need Three Pointers?

Here are 5 solid free agents that will knock down a lot of three’s. I have ranked the following players in the order that I believe they should be picked up in.

  1. Jordan Farmar (Yahoo Rank = 99)
    61 3PTM, 1.6 3PTM/g
    3PTM (last 5 games): 13

    Commentary: Farmar has been the epitome of consistency for the Los Angeles Lakers. Playing on average 20/min a game, Farmar still averages 10 points a game, a steal a game, and a few assists and rebounds a game. Due to the absence of Bynum in the middle and now Ariza on the wing, expect Farmar to get more minutes and more looks a game (especially from three-point land!). Anyone that has watched an LA Lakers game recently knows that Farmar leads the second unit in scoring, intensity and reliability. My favorite metric for measuring a Lakers player’s performance is whether Kobe Bryant passes that player the ball and this is definitely the case when you’re talking about Farmar.

  2. Martell Webster (Yahoo Rank = 101)
    72 3PTM, 1.8 3PTM/g
    3PTM (last 5 games): 11

    Commentary:Baby Kobe”, as his teammate LaMarcus Aldridge so admiringly nicknamed him after he scored 24 points in one quarter, is a talented, but very streaky player. As of late, Webster hasn’t been doing so hot, so he probably will be available in one of your leagues. Watch out for this guy, though. He’s got a phenomenal shot and displays incredible athleticism. Although his shot has been a little off the past few games, managers that are seeking 3PT will be glad to hear that nearly everything he has put in the basket as of late has been a 3PT.

  3. Keith Bogans (Yahoo Rank = 85)
    89 3PTM, 2.1 3PTM/g
    3PTM (last 5 games): 8

    Commentary: No longer in the starting lineup, Keith Bogans is one of the better 6th men in the NBA right now. His 3PT shooting percentage isn’t spectacular, but because of the sheer number of looks he gets, Bogans is a legitimate 3PT option for any manager looking to improve in this category. One of the good things about him coming off the bench is that his FG% has drastically improved; it looks as if his shot-selection has improved and this has yielded dividends for the 6-5 guard-forward out of Kentucky.

  4. Eddie House (Yahoo Rank = 106)
    65 3PTM, 1.7 3PTM/g
    3PTM (last 5 games): 10

    Commentary: Eddie House is a very sold overall fantasy player with a particular prowess in 3PTM. Another good sign for managers is the fact that House has been getting more than 10 more minutes a game above his average the last 5 or so games. Not only can House knock down the three ball, but with additional minutes he can pull down a few rebounds, dish out a few dimes and make at least one steal a game.

  5. Michael Finley (Yahoo Rank = 134)
    73 3PTM, 1.9 3PTM/g
    3PTM (last 5 games): 8

    Commentary: At 34 years of age, Michael Finley is still a legitimate scoring threat on a very good Spurs team. Lately his minutes have been sporadic to say the least, and the Spurs have been having their individual team woes as well, but expect Finley to rebound strong in the second half and improve upon his very mediocre fantasy rank. This guy’s just too talented not to if he stays healthy.

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To hoops,
Farid

RookieWatch 07-08 (Picks #1-5)

Before the 2007 NBA Draft, this current class was hyped to be at the level of some of the greatest of all time, including the 2003 draft class that included Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, David West, Leandro Barbosa, and Josh Howard. But as the season has progressed, many of these rookies have experienced various growing pains. Yet there are still some possible sleepers that could help make the small difference you need to go deep in your fantasy league.

This will be the first installment of RookieWatch 07-08, starting with picks #1-5.

  1. Greg Oden, Portland Trailblazers – Drafted to be the next dominant center. Has no value except in keeper leagues.

    Recommendation: Ignore unless in a keeper league.

  2. Kevin Durant, Seattle Supersonics – One of the most prolific scorers in his one year in college, was drafted to be the savior of the Sonics franchise. Most likely, owners in your league overvalued the impact of this rookie and oftentimes took him too early, before proven commodities such as Josh Howard, Brandon Roy, Tony Parker, and Lamar Odom. Although he has not proven to be a game-changer, he still has adjusted to be a solid scorer in the NBA. However, he has not been the rebounding presence he was at Texas. Still, he contributes in 3-pointers, FT %, and will also add about a steal and block a game.

    Recommendation: If you need points, FT %, or 3-pointers, propose a trade fora player such as Andre Miller or Emeka Okafor.

  3. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks – Won two championships at Florida and provides solid FG % and rebounds in his first year. Also contributes by adding about a steal and block per game along with nine points. Horford has been getting a solid 30 minutes/game and does not hurt in any of the categories. Was touted as having the most NBA-ready body of this draft and will only improve in the second half when he learns more about opponents.

    Recommendation: If you need a solid defender who can post rebounds and a solid FG %, try trading for a player such as Andres Nocioni or Mehmet Okur.

  4. Mike Conley Jr., Memphis Grizzlies – Played one year with Greg Oden at Ohio State and, since beginning the year with an injury that severely limited his playing time, has entered the starting lineup and posted solid stats. With great speed and toughness, Conley has played at least 30 minutes in 8 of his 10 games since returning from injury. He is a steal of a pickup if you need assistance in assists, steals, and surprisingly, rebounds for a guard. Also, he does not hurt you in any categories, even turnovers. Farid also does a great job of describing Conley’s emergence as the leading point guard of the Grizzlies.

    Recommendation: Pick him up if he is on waivers and you need point guard help. Otherwise, try an enticing offer for Kirk Hinrich or Kurt Thomas, since the owner of the league may undervalue his contributions.

  5. Jeff Green, Seattle Supersonics – Acquired in the deal that sent Ray Allen to Boston (and began the ripple effect that led to the creation of the Boston Three Party), Green initially struggled to find minutes even with a young Sonics lineup and has recently been a marginal performer, at best. Since he has little value in many categories, such as steals, blocks, turnovers, assists, and percentages, the contribution to either points or rebounds is negated.

    Recommendation: Monitor Green’s status for the rest of the year and see if he can gain some consistency. However, he will most likely have little value this season.

Update (Jan 27): for fantasy analysis of 2007 draft picks #6-10, click here.

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Mike
Senior Writer

Three Fantasy Basketball Blogs Worth Reading

Seems like everyone’s doing this these days, so I thought I’d join in. Here are three high quality fantasy basketball blogs that I would definitely recommend.

  1. Give Me The Rock
    Known for chronicling the NBA season on a daily basis, GMTR is by far my favorite fantasy basketball site. Throughout the season, its main authors (Nels and Patrick) provide three unique features (among others): Line of the Night, Waiver Wire of the Night and The Biggest Loser. It’s scary how many of my free agent pickups throughout a season are directly linked to GMTR’s recommendations, which are on-point, accurate and clairvoyant. GMTR also provides it’s own proprietary 8 and 9 Category Player Rater’s, as well as other useful commentary. I also enjoy reading GMTR posts because of their humor. Make no mistake about it, these guys know basketball, but they present their articles in a way that is amusing and fun to read.
  2. Fantasy Basketblog
    This blog does a great job of combining technical information with insightful commentary. It’s a site that has very much inspired the content of The Trading Block. It does a very comprehensive job at looking at many facets of the fantasy basketball game. It analyzes players well, it talks about teams and their schedule’s and it gives very sound player and team rankings.

  3. Drive and Dish
    Written by Christopher McCurry and Nick Cannata-Bowman, Drive and Dish is another solid fantasy basketball blog. It isn’t updated on a daily basis, but it still offers a wealth of interesting, applicable information that can help any manager. Their most recent article tells manager’s what to do with Andrew Bynum in light of his knee injury that will keep him out of action for eight weeks.

To hoops,
Farid

Spring Clean Your Fantasy Basketball Rosters

The typical fantasy basketball manager usually participates in two or more leagues in any given season. With the average roster size around 13 players, it’s easy to realize that as the number of leagues a manger plays in goes up, so does the number of players that the manager must manage (add/drop, trade, bench, play, etc).

I thought about writing this post today after going through the roster of one of my three teams and realizing that one of the players I had picked up a couple of weeks before wasn’t producing in the categories that I needed from him. He was on my roster, playing games and doing close to nothing for my team. Players like this will eat at your limited games played (in Roto leagues) and definitely should be dropped.

Going along with the above example, here are three things a manger can do to “spring clean” their fantasy basketball rosters:

  1. Sort your roster by the “Ranks” option and determine if any of your players need to be dropped
    After sorting by rank, you can view the most recent performance of all players on your team. This is important because those less vaunted players on your roster will tend to go through their individual ups and downs. For example, if a player is ranked 100 on the season, 190 in the last month and 230 during the last week, this player is probably going through a rough stretch and probably should be dropped in lieu of a player on more of a hot-streak.

  2. Reassess what your team(s) need
    At the beginning of a season, a [good] manager will typically look at his or her roster and determine those categories in which he or she is well-positioned to do well in and those in which he or she is not. Based on this subjective assessment, an experienced manager will attempt to improve in certain categories and de-emphasize others. I think this is a very good way of managing a team, but I find that as mangers we don’t do this nearly enough. As a habitual practice, always reassess your team’s needs.

  3. Always read Yahoo player information notes
    Yahoo helps make a manger’s job easier by sharing valuable player information. Yahoo does this in the form of regular player notes and 24-hour player notes. The latter summarizes crucial information about a player that has come out within the last twenty-four hours. This is especially useful for forecasting extended player absences (because of injury, suspension, etc.).

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To hoops,
Farid

Garnett, Pierce and Allen NOT the Best "Big Three"

What is the “Big Three”?
The term “Big Three” has been thrown around a lot this year–both in the NBA preseason and now during the regular season–to describe the Boston Celtics tandem of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. The term “Big Three” originally stems from Boston’s high-powered trio of the 80’s: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

Best Fantasy “Big Three”
Not entirely reflective of their on-court performance, I decided today to embark on a mission to determine,
FANTASY-WISE, what the best big three’s in the NBA were today, by team.

Here are the top 5 (for ranking methodology see below):

  1. Phoenix [28]: Marion (2), Stoudemire (12), Nash (14)
  2. Denver [65]: Camby (7), Iverson (9), Anthony (49)
  3. Dallas [71]: Nowitzki (8), Terry (19), J. Howard (44)
  4. Orlando [72]: Lewis (17), Turkoglu (24), D. Howard (31)
  5. Utah [75]: Boozer (15), Williams (20), Kirilenko (40)

What immediately jumps out is the fact that the Boston Celtics’ “Big Three” are not even amongst the Top 5 “Big Three’s” in the NBA. Almost at the NBA season’s midpoint, the Phoenix Suns are overwhelming winners of The Trading Block’s Best Fantasy “Big Three” Award, with three players in the top-15 of all fantasy players. When I say that Nash, Stoudemire and Marion are in the top-15 of all fantasy players, I am referring to their “rank”, or their season ranks. It shouldn’t be surprising that the Suns came out on top in this analysis because of their style of play (READ: no defense whatsoever) and their propensity to score well over 100 points/game (they score around 110 points/game).

Second in line, Camby and Iverson have been fantasy beasts this season, propelling the Denver Nuggets to the runner-up spot, and Dirk & company have a slight advantage over Orlando and Utah in the #3 position.

Here are 6-10:

  1. Boston [77]: Garnett (4), Pierce (18), Allen (55)
  2. Detroit [87]: Billups (10), Wallace (23), Hamilton (54)
  3. LA Lakers [94]: Bryant (3), Bynum (28), Fisher (63)
  4. Memphis [105]: Gay (25), Miller (35), Gasol (45)
  5. New Orleans [107]: Paul (1), West (39), Chandler (67)

Boston actually comes in at #6, with Ray Allen’s ranking bringing down that threesome. The veteran tandem in Detroit (Billups, Wallace and Hamilton) is the 7th best “Big Three” in the NBA, followed by the Lakers (who will drop with the loss of Bynum for 8 weeks), Memphis (balanced star numbers) and New Orleans (anchored by Chris Paul).

DISCLAIMER

  1. I understand that fantasy statistics alone are not a complete indicator of a player’s value. A true “Big Three” doesn’t just consist of fantasy point accumulators, but should be able to coexist reasonably, work together and, most importantly, win basketball games, none of which is captured by fantasy rankings.
  2. I also understand that a player’s “rank” may be affected by injuries, suspensions, etc. Nonetheless, an analysis such as this is interesting to perform for its novelty, and should not be taken as a 100% indicator of the best “Big Three” in the NBA. I encourage others in the fantasy basketball blogging world to tackle this from different perspectives.

METHODOLOGY
To conduct such an analysis, I:

  1. Collected the top 100 Yahoo Fantasy Basketball players by “rank” (explanation on the difference between rank and o-rank can be found here)
  2. Sorted this list of players by team
  3. Summed up the total rank’s for each team’s top three fantasy players
  4. Sorted these summations from least to greatest, giving the best ‘big three’ fantasy combinations first

What are some of the other drawbacks in performing an analysis such as this? Let me know in the comments below.

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To hoops,
Farid

A Crazy Sunday Night in the NBA

There was a lot of crazy NBA news on Sunday.

  1. Tayshaun Prince scored 0 points on 0-10 shooting.
    Richard Hamilton scored 3 points on 1-7 shooting.
    The second-best team in the league, the Detroit Pistons, was manhandled by the third-worst team in the NBA, the New York Knicks, 89-65.
  2. Andrew Bynum injured his left knee in the 3rd quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Memphis Grizzlies. He couldn’t make it to the locker room on his own, but a Lakers spokesman later stated that Bynum’s X-rays were negative. They will perform an MRI on Bynum tomorrow. A Bynum injury would definitely help Kwame Brown’s numbers.
  3. Lebron James filed a not guilty plea after receiving a ticket for driving 101 mph on December 30th, the day of his 23rd birthday.

What does this mean for fantasy?
Not much. Prince and Hamilton will definitely rebound, as will the Pistons. Billups told reporters after the game that he “washed off” the loss in the shower and there was no particular reason that they played so poorly. Bynum’s injury could pose huge problems for managers that possess him, but wait until tomorrow before panicking. Lebron getting ticketed isn’t a big deal unless the media begins hassling him about it and it begins to affect him on the court. My guess is this will not happen.

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To hoops,
Farid

Mike Conley Jr. Shines in Stoudamire’s Former Role

The Story
In December of ’07, Damon Stoudamire was still the starting PG for the Memphis Grizzlies. He still ran the team and even embraced his new role as mentor of 20 year-old rookie PG Michael Conley, who was out with an injured right shoulder.

But the time came when Conley’s rehab was complete and he was due back in action. When Conley finally returned on December 30, the Grizzlies promptly inactivated the struggling Stoudamire and inserted Conley into the starting lineup. As one might expect, Stoudamire (a 12-year NBA vet) didn’t take this well and has since repeatedly asked to be traded.

Mike Conley Memphis Grizzlies
What does this mean for Mike Conley Jr?
A solidified role in the starting lineup, ample playing time and an opportunity to run a high-powered Memphis offense. In his last 5 games, Conley has shown his versatility as a fantasy player–able to not only pass and shoot, but rebound and steal at an above-average rate.

Mike Conley (last 5 games): 10.8 ppg, 5.6 apg, 3.8 rpg, 1.8 spg

These numbers are not spectacular, but anyone with some foresight can see the potential in Conley and his fantasy stats. Here are the main reason’s why Conley will have success the rest of the season.

  1. The Memphis Grizzlies may not be the best team in the league (in fact they are one of the worst), but they can certainly push the ball up and down the court and score–something fantasy managers love. They aspire to be like the Golden State Warriors or the Phoenix Suns in how they play.
  2. Conley has only played eleven games thus far. With some time to adjust to the pace of the NBA, Conley will mature and his numbers will increase.
  3. He’s in the starting lineup and knows that this is his team to run. If it were appropriate, I’d almost start calling him Conney-Franchise, after Stevie-Franchise of the Houston Rockets. Being endowed with the opportunity to run a basketball team is a blessing, and Conley will most likely take advantage of it.

Final Word
If Mike Conley Jr is still available in one of your leagues, I would seriously consider picking him up. He will be a legitimate point guard option the rest of the season. I, myself, was able to find him in 1 out of my 3 leagues.

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To hoops,
Farid